The Rise of Family Sitcoms

By: Maria

             The family sitcom has been around for years with such shows as Everybody Loves Raymond, Married with Children, and even Leave it to Beaver. These shows did extremely well in their ratings, and they are still repeated on cable and regular television almost daily. However, for the last couple of years, it was rare to see a new family sitcom on television, especially one that did as well as these older shows once did. With the success of Modern Family, family sitcoms have started to re-appear in popular culture through American’s televisions.

            A family sitcom is a show that takes situations that would happen in everyday family life and create humorous storylines out of them. Now on its third season, Modern Family is a family sitcom that follows the lives of three families that are interrelated through Jay (the father), Claire (Jay’s daughter), and Mitchell (Jay’s son). Both Claire and Mitchell have their own families, and all three families are close to each other. However, there are always problems and arguments popping up. This show uses situations that many families go through during their lives and creates humorous situations out of them. For example, in this clip Haley (Claire and Phil’s daughter) brings an older boy home and Phil tries to scare him. In this episode, the writers used a normal life situation and made it into a joke.

 Since Modern Family first aired, the ratings have been extremely high and the praise for the show has yet to end. In fact, during this year’s Emmys Modern Family came away with five different awards.  Since Modern Family has gained such great success, there has been an enormous amount of family sitcoms that have been popping up. Since the family sitcom offers a wide viewing age range, the family sitcom offers a great way for families to watch television shows together. That means that this aspect of culture reaches not just one age group, but a vast amount of age groups. In many of these shows, American values both from past and present are expressed. Though a new shows storyline might be similar to one that was popular years ago, they tweak things here and there to modify the changing cultural values.

            There use to be many family sitcoms available years ago. However, for a lengthy amount of time in television years, there has been a lack of family sitcoms. This television show format was rare. Lately, however, there has been a huge growth with the family sitcom production. This is relevant to the clip we watched in class called Merchants of Cool. The creators of these shows have taken a classic show format and created it to fit the modern day person’s thinking of cool. The story lines can still be compared to the story lines of old television shows, however, they throw in modern day thinking, modern gadgets, modern jokes, and modern fashion. They produce these shows based on what is cool at the time and what their consumer wants to see. The characters have changed and evolved, just like the viewing audience. Though there are shows out there that are just focused mainly on the male role, it is not necessarily always the case anymore. Now there are multiple characters or even couples that are the main focus.  The rise of family sitcoms is worth studying because it is a pop culture industry that has made a full circle in our society.

            I think it is important to think of the family sitcom through evolutionary eyes in popular culture. These sitcoms use to be such a major part of popular culture years ago, and now that it has come back, it plays an even greater part. These television shows are representing the world around us and they show to the world what is important, or what the writers and producers see is important in our society. They create situations that many individuals and families can relate to in some way or other. These shows shape how society looks at the world. They create icons of what the typical family should be like, and by doing that, they help shape society’s views.

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